This is page numbers 275-298 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was work.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Julie Green, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. McNeely, Hon. Alfred Moses, Mr. Nadli, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O’Reilly, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

The House met at 10:00 a.m.

--Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi, colleagues. It is my pleasure, colleagues, to welcome you back to the Chamber to resume our Second Session of the 18thLegislative Assembly. I know that your spring has been taken up with business plan reviews, numerous constituency tours, and also visiting and ongoing work of this government, but I hope that you have had an opportunity to connect on the land as well. Spring is one of the most beautiful seasons in the North, and I trust that you are energized and prepared for the work ahead of us.

Members, on a sadder note, I join many other Northerners and offer our condolences of this House to the family of the late James Arvaluk. Mr. Arvaluk was a former Member of the Northwest Territories 12thAssembly, and following division, a Member of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. Our sincere sympathy is extended to his family, and also his friends and communities.

I would also like to acknowledge the Pages that we will have with us throughout this session. We have students from various communities throughout the North: Mackenzie Mountain School in Norman Wells; P.W. Kaeser School in Fort Smith; East Three Secondary School in Inuvik; Kakisa Secondary School in Kakisa; Moose Kerr School in Aklavik; Ecole Boreale in Hay River; and Ecole William McDonald School in Yellowknife. Welcome to all of you, and thank you for your contribution. It's always a pleasure to share this Chamber with the youth of our territory.

I know that you are eager to turn your attention to the work at hand, colleagues, and I will close with the following request: I ask that you follow the rules and procedures that you have established to guide the proceedings. I ask that you work together to conduct your proceedings with dignity and also with respect for each other, for the institution we serve, and for our constituents. As your Speaker, I commit to assisting you in any way that I can to make your work as productive as possible.

Now I wish to advise the House that I received the following message from the Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. It reads:

Dear Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories the passage of

● Interim Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), 2016-2017

● Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2015-2016

during the second Session of the 18thAssembly.

Yours truly, Gerald W. Kisoun, Deputy Commissioner.

I would like to say masi, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. Honourable Premier.

Minister’s Statement 28-18(2): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to welcome Members back to the Legislative Assembly for our spring sitting. Our first months as an Assembly were spent working together to define our priorities and agree on a mandate for the government. Our work was guided by a new process convention on priority setting that all Members agreed to. New features of that process included the first ever public debate on priorities, in which all Members were able to speak publicly about what they wanted to see the Government of the Northwest Territories focusing on, informed by discussions with constituents during the election, and our meetings with Aboriginal government leaders and women's groups after the election.

Another new feature of the process was the development and approval of a detailed mandate for the Government of the Northwest Territories that also was debated here in public. That mandate -- the first one ever for the Government of the Northwest Territories -- is our plan and our commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories that we will be held accountable for. It is a foundational piece that will both guide our work and be the standard our achievements will be measured against, and it was strengthened by the participation and input of all Members, Mr. Speaker.

We learned a few things together while working on that plan. We learned that there are many issues and many opportunities facing the people of the Northwest Territories today. We learned that there are many opinions and views about how the government should approach those issues and opportunities. We learned that one of the hardest things we will have to do as an Assembly is choose among the many priorities and options in front of us. Most importantly, we learned how to work together to serve and advance the best interests of the people we represent. Mr. Speaker, we will need to apply those lessons in the coming weeks as we review and debate the 2016-2017 budget. The budget is where aspirations meet reality, where the Assembly weighs the relative merits of the many things government does and makes practical decisions about what we can do now and what we need to leave for later.

During this sitting, we will have to decide what we can afford to spend and what we should spend it on. We will have to consider the current fiscal situation and the future prospects for economic growth when our revenue sources are limited, and our economy is still in poorer shape than it was before the 2008 global recession. While this is serious, it is not cause for alarm. It is the kind of situation governments face all the time and simply requires us to make prudent, responsible decisions. Like every government before us, we have to take a hard look at what we are spending to make sure our programs are aligned with the priorities we have agreed on, that they are as efficient as possible and that they are still needed. This is not austerity, Mr. Speaker, this is simply what responsible governments do to make sure they can continue to afford the programs and services the public needs by trimming and redirecting spending to keep it in line with revenues.

Every family knows that buying their groceries on credit or borrowing to pay their bills is not sustainable. It is even worse when that family is trying to save up a little money for a down payment on a home. The government is not planning to buy a home, Mr. Speaker, at least not for itself, but we are investing in public housing, in schools, in health centres and long-term care facilities that support the programs and services residents depend on. We are investing in more efficient and alternative energy infrastructure that will help lower the cost of living and in improved internet access, road, air, and marine transportation links to help connect communities. Like everybody, the Government of the Northwest Territories wants to make sure it can afford the major purchases it needs by making sure that we spend less than what we bring in, and that we are able to put some money aside for our future.

Mr. Speaker, we need to make sure that our decisions are realistic and sustainable, and that we have a plan for investing in the Northwest Territories and its people, and delivering on our commitments for advancing the Assembly's priorities. Not only am I confident that we can bring forward that kind of plan, I am pleased to report that we are already making progress on commitments in each area of our mandate. Mr. Speaker, to advance our economy, environment, and climate-change commitments, we have already taken action to invest in the art and film sectors and are building partnerships to expand resources available for community-based traditional economy programs, including culturally-based tourism and the conservation economy.

As part of our commitment to improve coordination and effectiveness in resource management systems, the Government of the Northwest Territories will soon respond to the first Northwest Territories environmental audit completed since devolution, outlining publicly our plans for continuing to uphold our environmental responsibilities.

To advance education, training, and youth development, we are supporting quality early childhood development by continuing to implement Right From the Start, including improving access to rehabilitation services and outcomes of early intervention services for children under five. We are working with Aboriginal governments to develop an action plan to improve the inclusion of traditional knowledge and program development, implementation and decision-making while continuing to implement the traditional knowledge policy and framework as part of our commitment to increase cultural programming and education, revitalize Aboriginal languages, and promote use of official languages.

We support opportunities for youth through effective programming, such as the youth corps, youth contributors, youth ambassador programs, youth centres, and youth tours. To address costs of living, we are increasing the availability of safe, affordable housing by implementing community-based housing property management services in rural and remote communities, and supporting land requirements for new housing investment. We are encouraging residents, businesses, condominiums, cooperatives and communities to invest in energy-efficient products, energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energies, and improving the energy efficiency of public housing.

Mr. Speaker, our efforts to promote federal investment in reducing the cost of living for Northerners showed early results when the Government of Canada announced in its recent budget that it would increase the northern residents deduction by 33 per cent, putting almost $7 million back into the pockets of northern taxpayers.

Mr. Speaker, we are continuing to leverage available funding for investments in housing, transportation, and community public infrastructure through the programs identified in the federal budget for public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure, including the almost $52 million for Northwest Territories communities, through the newly established Clean Water and Waste Water Fund. We are also working in collaboration with the federal government to fast-track the funding identified under the previous government's infrastructure programs to help bolster our local communities.

To advance community wellness and safety, we are looking at innovative ways to address crime, such as integrated case management, wellness courts, domestic violence treatment options courts, and culturally appropriate correctional programs as part of our commitment to focus on mental health and addictions.

Mr. Speaker, we are looking at policy and financial needs for long-term care and dementia beds, developing updated capital projections and building more seniors' independent housing, as a part of our commitment to take actions so seniors can age in place. We are fostering healthy families by focusing on wellness, prevention, and improved nutrition by continuing to implement the Building Stronger Families action plan to transform child and family services. We have introduced new risk assessment tools for workers and are ensuring services for children focus not just on safety, but also on stability and also on child development. Mr. Speaker, we are reducing the burden of chronic disease by promoting healthy eating through several programs, hosting healthy living fairs in communities, and giving health care providers tools and training to support patients and families in the management of chronic disease.

Health system transformation is moving forward this summer, creating the integrated health system we need to ensure our people get the improved care they need. We are supporting community wellness initiatives with early childhood development funding, continue to work with partners and stakeholders to reduce poverty and promote volunteerism to help strengthen the social fabric of our communities. We continue to take action on family and community violence by funding shelters in five communities and developing protocols and response teams in other communities. We are supporting the RCMP and communities to develop policing action plans for each community, and continue to participate in planning for a national inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Mr. Speaker, to advance our governance commitments, we are consulting with Aboriginal governments to complete the next phase of regulation making under the Wildlife Act; continue to support the Intergovernmental Council and provide funding to Aboriginal governments and work with communities to develop wellness plans as part of our commitment to collaborate and foster government-to-government relationships. We are implementing a new Financial Administration Act to improve government-wide planning and accountability and overall fiscal responsibility as part of our commitment to increase transparency and accountability and strengthen consensus government.

Mr. Speaker, we are working with communities to monitor drinking water quality, continuing to pursue federal funding for community infrastructure, working with stakeholders to develop and propose amendments to the Civil Emergency Measures Act, and working on a strategy to close the gap in funding levels to meet municipal core needs as part of our commitment to build stronger relationships with community governments and stakeholders. These are just some of the commitments that the Government of the Northwest Territories is implementing or fulfilling. Responsibility to oversee, coordinate, track and report our progress on each one of the 136 mandate commitments has assigned to the seven committees of Cabinet, which will ensure work continues to advance work in all areas.

Other achievements during the past several months include meetings with Aboriginal leadership to discuss outstanding claims. Resolving claims to create certainty around Aboriginal rights, land use, and resources is critical for the future of our territory, and a priority for me that I know Members share. To take advantage of that interest, we have recently completed draft terms of reference for a joint Cabinet and Regular Member advisory committee on Aboriginal relations that I hope can be finalized and established shortly. We have also been working on proposed new approaches for a number of negotiating tables in the hope that we can resolve outstanding issues that have slowed our progress. These will be announced once they have been discussed with our negotiating partners, and shared with MLAs.

Our efforts to identify new approaches has benefitted from our discussions with the Government of Canada and the federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Engagement with Canada has been an important focus for us in in the early days of this government. Myself and all Ministers have been active participants in the renewed national discussions on matters of importance to the Northwest Territories, including climate change, Aboriginal relations, infrastructure investment, economic development, and health care.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to take steps to make the Northwest Territories a more attractive place to work and live as part of our efforts to grow the population. Minister McLeod will have more to say on this in his budget speech tomorrow. As part of our efforts to make government more accessible to Northerners and improve openness and accountability, Cabinet held open houses in Norman Wells and Inuvik last month. These events were an opportunity for people in these communities to meet all Ministers, and tell us about their priorities, interests, and concerns. We are currently identifying dates for additional open houses in Hay River, Fort Simpson, and Yellowknife.

This is just the beginning of our work, Mr. Speaker. This Assembly and the people of the Northwest Territories expect to see sustained progress on the government's commitments. We have worked with Members in committee over the past weeks to develop and refine our plan for achieving that progress and I thank Members for their input and support. I look forward to our continued discussions over the next month as we debate and finalize the plan for the current fiscal year. I hope that we can continue to rely on their support as we work to advance our shared priorities and mandate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause.

Minister’s Statement 28-18(2): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Finance.

Minister’s Statement 29-18(2): Notice Of Budget Address
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will deliver the budget address on Wednesday, June 1st, 2016. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 29-18(2): Notice Of Budget Address
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Item 4, Members’ statements. Member for Nunakput.

United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples
Members’ Statements

May 31st, 2016

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I'm going to talk about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Mr. Speaker, on May 10th, just three short weeks ago, the Government of Canada announced that it would be removing its objections to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a decision applauded by Aboriginal leaders across Canada. The declaration was first adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizing the basic human rights of Indigenous peoples around the world, as well as rights to language, land, equality, and self-determination, among others. More than 140 nations passed the declaration but Canada, which had a hand in drafting the declaration initially, voted against it, with Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

The Conservative government of the day expressed their concerns of the declaration's wording and provisions addressing the land and resources, saying it was overly broad and could lead to a re-opening of previously settled land claims. Mr. Speaker, as well, a provision calling the countries to obtain the informed consent of Indigenous peoples prior to passing new laws was also viewed as contentious. Nonetheless, in a 2010 Speech from the Throne, the Conservative government said it wanted to take steps to endorse this aspirational document in a manner fully consistent to Canada's Constitution and laws. On May 10thof this year, the current Liberal government, represented by Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, announced that Canada is now a full supporter of the declaration, without qualification. This news, for which Minister Bennett received a standing ovation, was largely greeted as a positive development by Canadian Aboriginal leaders. However, the Minister went on to add, "We intend nothing less than to adopt the implementation of the declaration, in accordance with the Canadian Constitution," thereby breathing life into Section 35. This means, in the Minister's own words, that our constitutional obligations serve to fulfill all of the principles of the declaration, including free, prior, and informed consent. Mr. Speaker, this raises a number of questions in my mind, including exactly how Canada interprets Section 35, and whether or not Canada intends to consider constitutional amendments to give immediate effect to the declaration.

I also wonder what Canada's endorsement means for processes such as implementing the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and for incorporating free and prior-informed consent into the federal environmental-assessment process. Mr. Speaker, for us to remain who we are, we must continue to do what we do, maintain our culture, speak our language, and be recognized at the regional, territorial, national, and international level to maintain our identity as Indigenous people.

Mr. Speaker, I recently travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to attend UNEA-2 to ensure Canada’s commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Later today I will have questions for the Premier regarding the GNWT’s response to Canada’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause.

United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members’ statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Condolences To The Families Of Recently Deceased Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh Residents
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as has become customary for me, I would like to read some eulogies that people have passed away in Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh between the last sitting and today. Mr. Speaker, I would like to send my condolences to the Abel family, if it's okay, for the late Herman Abel who passed away on March 31st, 2016 at age 40. Herman was born in Lutselk’e August 23rd, 1975, the youngest of Alizette and Louis Abel's children. Herman loved his family very much, enjoyed playing guitar, singing, and always made people laugh, was great at fixing things. Herman is survived by his children, Melanie, Tristan, Madison, his stepdaughter Meghan, his grandchildren, sisters Berna, Verna, Lucy; brothers Mervin and Floyd. Herman will be sadly missed by his family.

Mr. Speaker, on April 17th, 2016, at the age of 23, Helena Balsillie, daughter of Don and Karen Balsillie and sister to Lisa, and sisters Lisa, Vanessa, Chantelle, brothers Bruce and Garret, passed away in Edmonton. Helena was a very loving young lady that will be sadly missed by her community. There are many people, young people that were at the funeral. The church was packed with her friends, and you could tell how popular Lena was in the community of Fort Resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to send further condolences on to the King family for the passing of the late Pete King, who passed away May 2nd, 2016. He was 88. Pete was born in Rocher River, and was very active at attending Metis meetings, did all of his own work in the home as a former maintenance man from Housing. Pete was a very humourous person, has a sense of humour that everybody adored in the community, and everybody knew Mr. King. My favourite story of Mr. King, at one time discussing whether or not he had good eyesight, indicated that he has got excellent eyesight. He said that one time he watched a jet take off and he watched it for two hours. Mr. Speaker, Pete is survived his children, Margaret, Charlie, Bob, Emily, Sonny, Doris, Raymond, Trudy and Kara, siblings Freddie, Denise, Joan, Narcisse, Frank and Agnes, plus many grandchildren. Pete was pre-deceased by his wife Christine and some brothers and sisters, also.

Mr. Speaker, also I would like to pass my condolences on to the Fatt family of Lutselk’e. Pierre Fatt passed away on May 10th, 2016 at age 86. He was born on --

Condolences To The Families Of Recently Deceased Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh Residents
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, your time for Members’ statements has expired.

Condolences To The Families Of Recently Deceased Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh Residents
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to read the last two eulogies that I have. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Condolences To The Families Of Recently Deceased Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh Residents
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, Pierre was born at Taltheilei Narrows, September 8th, 1929, to Alexis and Josephine Fatt. He lived a traditional lifestyle, hunting, fishing, trapping, went to various jobs. He met his wife Mary Adele Nitah in Lutselk’e and they raised seven children. Pete is survived by his children Larry, Ron, Maggie, Irene, Susie, and siblings Jim, Maryrose and Emily. Pierre was predeceased by his wife Mary.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to finally pass my condolences on to the Beck family of Fort Resolution for the passing of the late Doris Beck. She will be sadly missed. She passed away on May 12th, 2016 at age 76. Doris was born in Rocher River, January 15th, 1940 and was the third of the children of Pierre and Marie Smith. Throughout her life, Doris lived in Taltson River and she and her late husband, Ray Beck, who is well-known in the Northwest Territories, a lot of children out on the land, taught a lot of traditional learning to the people. She is survived by her stepchildren Barbara, Stanley, Freddie, and her children Arthur, Verda, Roger and Della. She will be sadly missed by the community. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER

: Masi. Members’ statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Issues Relating To Leased Land In Nahendeh
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

MR. THOMPSO

N: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to take you - this House - on a journey. Just imagine you dream of purchasing a brand new truck. You get yourself a job, start saving money, enough money to make a down payment on the vehicle of your dreams. After a few months, you have saved enough money to make the down payment, pay the registration and insurance. You are excited. You head off to the dealership and work out a deal that includes monthly lease payments for the next 60 months, and you have to make a final lump payment at the end of the 60 months. Then this vehicle is yours. You are happy and sign the agreement. On the years as the months go on, you enhance this vehicle, adding new tires, a stereo system, new windows. As the term of the lease is fast approaching, you are excited that you are close to owning this vehicle. All you have to do is make that final lump sum payment and the vehicle is going to be yours. Then you receive a letter in the mail from the company saying you need to renew the lease, and by the way, the last 60 months, the payments do not count for anything. You need to start making monthly payments forever. If you don't agree, you have to return the truck and make sure it was in the same shape as it was when you bought it. To make matters worse, you can't even go out and buy a new truck because this company now owns all the car dealerships. Just imagine how you would feel. I know I wouldn't be happy at all.

Well, I know you're thinking this would never happen, and why would the Member from Nahendeh be telling such a story. Well, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, this is what's happening with the Department of Lands. In the Nahendeh where there is unsettled claim area, the residents feel this is happening to them as well. Mr. Speaker, a former constituent had a lease, a legal contract with the Commissioner of the NWT for 30 years, and 13 years ago, the lease was amended to an equity lease. The amendment revoked the standard five per cent review clause and added the following clause: “upon recent of payment in full of the total rental including any interest owned, annual rent of $1 per annum shall be considered as payment for the balance of the term.” Then the equity lease was sold to another constituent who thought that he could purchase the land without…I’m coming up to the end, Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Issues Relating To Leased Land In Nahendeh
Members’ Statements

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. Much to my surprise, the equity lease does not transfer the land fees simple, or the land in simple fees upon the payment of the total rental. To make things even more interesting, the constituent has to sign the new lease, and there isn't any more equity leases. Now so you need to apply for a new lease, which gives this person no equity. This newer lease will be ten per cent of the assessed value each year of the newer lease. In other words, the constituent has to pay the total assessed value of the property every ten years, which has gone up in price because of the home on this property. This constituent never gets any equity and keeps paying for the land over and over. Basically, it is rent, what is called, from what I understand. Unfortunately, if it was only one constituency or one constituent, it wouldn't as bad of an issue, but it's numerous ones in my riding. Mr. Speaker, this does not make any sense to me unless this government is looking at this way to keep revenue coming in our coffers. If this is the case, well done. Unfortunately, to me, it is mistreating our people, and why would anybody in their right mind wish to lease land and build a home here in the Northwest Territories? Mr. Speaker, later on, I will have questions for the Minister of Lands on this issue. Mahsi cho.